"The Inspired Plate" Food Photography and Styling Challenge | June 2012 | Fish Raw and Cooked

Welcome to June's edition of The Inspired Plate! 

I loved this month's challenge.. it forced my hand at not just styling a fish photo, but it was the first time I purchased a whole trout to cook without the help of my mom.. and fisherman dad. The hunt for a whole fish came easier than I expected. My first stop was at one of our favorite restaurants, Fish House Vera Cruz in Temecula. They have a fresh fish counter that is stocked daily with fish fare from the Pacific Coast. Our visit that particular evening had my mind set on purchasing oysters to make, style and photograph our favorite appetizer, Oysters Rockafeller. Such a beautiful dish with it's parmesan cream and spinach topped oyster meat in a pearlescent shell. It's a full burst of flavor.. an ambrosia fit for Kings. 

My decision making for TIP challenges though would drive anyone a bit crazy.. It wasn't until last week's challenge count down that I was at a grocery store on the opposite side of town that shocked me with their fresh fish counter and beautiful whole trout for only $4.95 a lb. Originally when I set up these challenges, my mind set was on whole fish. I have seen them captured in food photo's among the best culinary magazines and I knew that was what I wanted to attempt. It took nearly 1 second to order those babies all ready and gutted from the fish monger. I was a happy gal.

The recipe.. well that was another decision I put off till the last minute. I actually shot my raw image before I knew what I was cooking. That doesn't always play well when you have "before and after" images. I used ingredients in my refrigerator for the raw photo's.. and then I realized that my recipe had to utilize those same ingredients. My hunt for baked whole trout proved successful among some of the great recipes at the Food Network web site. It fit perfectly and adjusted well to the ingredients on hand. I did change a few details.. I made lemon shallot oil instead of butter, and used basil instead of thyme. The rest of the recipe was kept as Yolanda Banks had written. I hope you enjoy this post.

Please be sure to visit the rest of "The Inspired Plate" gals.. they work so hard and really apply themselves to learn and perfect the art of food styling and photography. It is such a joy working with them and seeing their monthly challenge interpretations. 

To see what The Inspired Plate Challenges have previously posted, click on the link HERE

Next up in our blog circle is my dear friend Kim Kelly at Liv Life | San Diego, CA | Food and Travel Writer. I LOVE this gal.. she is a talented writer as well as recipe creator, a busy mom and wife, and developer of ducktape wonder costumes for her daughter's dance team. She always amazes me with how much she can get done in the limited hours of her day. Love you Kim!!

Magic Muffins

Magic Muffins.. I'v been seeing this recipe on my Malt-O-Meal boxes for years.. literally since I was a young girl. Never even thought twice about baking them. My mom always had this creamy whole wheat grain in a bowl for us with butter, milk and a sprinkling of sugar.. or as I liked it with a dollop of jam on top. 

Now that school is out, and my kids have time for healthier prepared breakfasts I offered up a bowl of malt-o- meal for my younger girls. My brite daughter decided instead of in a bowl she wanted her 
malt-o-meal in a muffin cup. I am so glad she brought this recipe to my attention! I prepared it just as written on the package with the exception of a dollop of jam stirred into the batter before baking. 

The results where so yummy.. and I was SO surprised! My kids loved them, and even the day after warmed up with a spreading of butter on top they were still delicious. You've got to try these!! 

I wasn't quite sure why the title "magic", except for how many disappeared so quickly! 


  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Original Flavored Malt-O-Meal® hot wheat cereal®, dry
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients
  3. stir together until ingredients are just moistened.
  4. Spoon into a greased or paper-lined 12-cup muffin pan, filling cups ¾ full.
  5. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Muffin Variations:

  1. Add and incorporate one 8.5-ounce can cream style corn to Magic Muffins recipe for Magic Corn Bread mix.
  2. Pour muffin mixture into a greased 13x9-inch pan and bake for 19 to 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. For Banana Magic Muffins add ¾ cup mashed bananas to basic ingredients and follow the basic muffin baking instructions.

Ciao my friends!! 

An "Oh So Yummy" Marinated Broccoli Tomato Salad

This broccoli preparation is simple and tasty!

I don't know when.. or how it happened, but broccoli is the vegetable of choice for all of my kids. To my younger ones they look forward to a meal with the "tree's". My teens actually crave broccoli in it's many different preparations or simply steamed with a splash of lemon. 

Today's broccoli preparation comes by way of my oldest daughter who grocery shopping for me this weekend came home with all the ingredients to make our very favorite Broccoli Tomato Salad.

In this recipe I simply make a fresh mayonnaise dressing adding fresh minced lemon rind and a 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and toss it in with 2-3 largely cut vine ripened tomatoes and enough steamed broccoli to feed all your family and guests.